October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and we would like to call attention to this to encourage anyone in an abusive relationship — physical, mental or otherwise — to seek help immediately.
Sometimes, the messages meant to support and educate victims of domestic violence get lost in the nattering about abuse and gender. So, yes, men, too, can be and are victims of domestic violence.
The Centers for Disease Control developed the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, an ongoing survey that collects the most current and comprehensive national- and state-level data on intimate partner violence, sexual violence and stalking victimization in the United States.
Findings from the survey:
• In the U.S., about 1 in 3 women and nearly 1 in 6 men experienced some form of contact sexual violence during their lifetime.
• Nearly 23 million women and 1.7 million men have been victims of completed or attempted rape at some point in their life.
• In the U.S., more than 27 percent of women and 11 percent of men have experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime and experienced an intimate partner violence-related impact.
• 1 in 6 women and 1 in 19 men experienced stalking at some point during their lifetime.
The survey found that sexual violence starts young. Among the 27 states that report such statistics, 21 percent to 45 percent of victims reported first victimizations taking place when they were 11 to 17 years old.
If the national discourse on domestic violence is going to change, it has to start with a new perspective on whom a victim is and who an abuser is. Like all other types of violence, domestic violence is no respecter of gender, race, age or socioeconomic standing.
Someone you know is being abused by someone they love. By the time you find out, it might be too late to intervene. But if you have reason to suspect someone is in danger, err on the side of saving a life.
In an emergency, victims of domestic violence should call 911 or contact state or local law enforcement officials, who can respond to these crimes. Individuals in need of non-emergency assistance can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or visit www.TheHotline.org.
Advocates also are available to chat any time of the day or night.
Help also is available at the National Center for Victims of Crime, 1-855-4-VICTIM (1-855-484-2846).
Locally, for non-emergency assistance, call the United Way of Etowah County’s 2-1-1 First Call for Help.
Abuse is not love. Love does not hurt. Help is available. Leave while you can.